They say you can only have one first impression. Well, they certainly never heard of Blizzard Entertainment, then! Even though I Beta Tested Warlords of Draenor (henceforth WoD for short), the finished product is nothing short of impressive. If the intent was distance itself from Mists of Pandaria, the general consensus to that is mission accomplished.
Mind you, I’m one of the outspoken few who didn’t have a problem with the direction MoP took the game. By “one of the few” I mean one of the few who doesn’t mind SAYING they liked MoP and the three expansions that preceeded it. That said, this review is about the CURRENT expansion and let me tell you, like the ones before it this one kicks off with a BANG.
For those with a level 90 character who haven’t logged in yet (nothing wrong with that at this point actually), when you log into the game you will be directed to the Dark Portal to speak to Khadgar. One you pass through the Dark Portal the next thing you know, you’re in Tanaan Jungle on the Draenor of 35 years’ past.
I’ll pause for a moment and clarify the whole time-space thing: Garrosh Hellscream went 35 years into Draenor’s past where he convinced Grommash Hellscream from drinking Mannoroth’s Blood and corrupting the Orcs with Fel Energy. Mind you, in this version of Draenor Grommash is not Garrosh’s father. It’s fair to say this Draenor is an alternate universe. Powerful magic was used to connect this version of Draenor with present-day Azeroth. Cue the Ironmarch Invasion.
Anyway, the Hellscreams set a trap for Mannoroth (and Gul’dan) and using technical knowledge Garrosh brought from the present he is slain and Gul’dan is imprisoned. All the major Orc clans on Draenor except the Frostwolf merge to form the Iron Horde with the purpose of conqering all that stand in their way with Grom as head. As thanks for his assistence in the war effort, Grom names Garrosh his replacement as Warchief of the legendary Warsong Clan.
Fast forward to the Dark Portal.
With Vindicator Maraad and Thrall fighting by yout side, you shut down and then destroy the Dark Portal on the Draenor side ala Warcraft II: Beyond The Dark Portal. Now you’ve got the Iron Horde’s attention (LOL!). As you make your escape to Frostfire Ridge (Horde) or Shadowmoon Valley (Alliance) you meet the other six Warlords of Draenor: Ner’Zul (The first Lich King), Blackhand, Kargath, Kilrogg, Durotan (Thrall’s father and the namesake for Durotar, the Orcs’ homeland on Azeroth) and Gul’dan.
In the original timeline, The Frostwolf Clan was the only major clan that refused to drink Mannoroth’s blood and they eventually fled to Azeroth when the Dark Portal opened. In WoD, The Frostwolves refuse Grom’s offer and ally themselves with the Horde to oppose the Iron Horde. Thrall eventually confronts Garrosh and puts him down for good. The Draenei were nearly exterminated at the hands of the corrupted Orcs in the original timeline and Shattrath City fell. His failure wss what drove Maraad to volunteer to lead the Alliance expedition into Draenor. In WoD–and these are MASSIVE spoilers–The Prophet Velen (not the present-day one) sacrifices himself to protect his people in Shadowmoon Valley and later, Maraad sacrifices himself to keep Shattrath City from falling to the Iron Horde. Exarch Yrel, a priestess turned Paladin who in introduced during Draenor’s intro quest chain replaces Velen as the leader of the Draenei.
Speaking of Yrel, I have a hunch she will come to Azeroth post WoD sort of as Maraad’s replacement. I don’t think Blizzard would create a new lore character who doesn’t exist in the original timeline and just not use them again later. As folks have been pointing out since The Burning Crusade, Lore for the Draenei was retconned to make them a playable race. Thanks to WoD, we now know how they lived on Draenor before it became the Outand we know today. WoD also provides some back story on how the Orcs lived before they came to Azeroth. All of the major players on Draenor have their own ambitions and it’s a very well-thought out story so far.
As of this wrinig my main (Alliance Human Paladin) is level 94. I anticipate hitting level 100 by Thanksgiving. Let me restate something I told one of my Guild Mates earlier today: Those who leveled to 100 within the first 4 to 7 hours of the expansion’s release were using exploits to do so. A few days before WoD’s pre-patch Blizzard nerfed the experience you get from trying to fight mobs 5+ levels higher than you and increased the chances of them inflicting a Crushing Blow (massive damage). My opinion is the same as it’s always been: If you don’t want to take the time to level normally, you don’t deserve to enjoy the max level content.
Speaking of which, as many folks are aware Tanaan Jungle is closed after the intro quest chain. Another island northeast of Gorgrond and Ashran was also found via Datamining and is believed to be what is Netherstorm in Outland. I’m sure both areas will revealed in an upcoming patch. So we know Grommash Hellscream is the final boss of WoD and we even know Blizzard started working on the expansion coming after WoD as soon as they finished WoD. If anything, Blizzard has become very good at keeping folks coming back to Azeroth for more.
Overall, I give Warlords of Draenor an 8/10.
Blizzard went well out of its way to ensure you will always have something to do when you login. My hope is the Garrison is carried into the next expansion or even better, makes to jump into older content but we’ll see. The Garrison in and of itself is integral to your adventures on an otherwise hostile world. You are the Commander of your own base of operations. Being in charge has never been cooler!